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The Crucible, 28 April, 2013

May 20, 2013

“Shine your shoes and head for the Crucible”

Len Ganley Stance

After breakfast we realise that we’re short of cash to pay, but the landlady kindly lets us off by a fiver (maybe she’s anticipating a healthy haul of blood diamonds).

We then shine our shoes and head for the Crucible, where the World Snooker Championship is taking place, and get a passing tourist to snap us doing the Len Ganley stance.Image

My bike continues to fall apart – in addition to the nagging fear that the handlebars are going to fall off while I negotiate a busy roundabout, the gears are playing up, so I decide to give up the ghost.   The strict terms of reference mean  Nick isn’t allowed to bag destinations on his own, so sadly this means that we have to leave Rampton Secure Hospital for another day.

Nick writes:  It was a sad moment when I left Steve at Sheffield station. I had perhaps unwisely been trying to convince him that the missing pin from his handlebars (the bit which holds them in place) was but a minor issue, and that his bike was so old and stiff that it would continue hold itself together as it had done for a good few miles. I even went as far as to suggest he should ride my bike and I would ride his, as I have less regard for my own personal safety than he does (which is the only reason why I’m faster than him cycling down hills). Either way, Steve’s common sense won out, and there was to be no trip to Rampton Secure Hospital, the Wripple Vetivers having ruled that the solo bagging of HMHB destinations doesn’t count. We still had to get to Retford though, to get the train back home which our bikes were booked onto.

As he waited patiently for the morning’s engineering works to finish and get a local train to Retford (regardless of whether a bus replacement service should be called a train replacement service, bikes are not permitted on them) I continued on to Retford by bike, frustrated that the next 30 miles would not count at all as part of the tour.

My frustration was further compounded by a maze of roundabouts and dual carriageways and the poorly signed cycleways that were supposed to accompany them on my long, slow and difficult escape through the urban decay of the eastern edge of Sheffield. Having finally found the reasonably-signposted Trans-Pennine Trail cycle path, I watched the countryside do battle with an array of piles of burnt rubbish and isolated housing estates. I felt like an extra in Kes.

Finally out of Sheffield, I rode through the bizarrely-named village of Wales, which begins with a series of foul-smelling industrial units and ends with a more pleasant landscape towards Kiveton Park.

Len Ganley stanceAs I was growing bored of the ride having no HMHB-related purpose, I decided to create one to improve my motivation. Steve was expecting to arrive in Retford by train at around 2.30pm. My progress out of Sheffield had been painfully slow, having become seriously lost on many occasions, but if I picked up the pace, I could still arrive before him. As I pedalled through Worksop, home to a large and highly visible population of heroin addicts (over 1% of the town’s population according to Labour MP John Mann) and flew past the scary-looking HMP Ranby, for which various Worksopians are undoubtedly destined, I finally arrived in Retford, 2 minutes before Steve did, although my delight in my achievement was far from that experienced from bagging any HMHB destination.

On reuniting in Retford, we prepare an afternoon of football viewing.  I like my small town pubs with Sky Sports, but insist we leave Alberto’s Bar, which is filled with racist Manchester United fans.

After a depressing meal at the Phoenix (we speculate about how much we’d pay someone to erase our memory of it) we head back on to the London train, trying to manage a smile.  It’s not like we’ve been captured by Barbary Corsairs.

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